As Electric Vehicles Arrive, Firms See Payback in Trucks
December 7, 2010
By MIKE RAMSEY in the Wall Street Journal: Battery-powered cars will begin appearing soon in driveways of consumers, but electric vehicles already are gaining early traction in another realm: commercial delivery fleets. Staples Inc., the Frito-Lay division of PepsiCo, FedEx Corp., AT&T Inc. and a few other companies have begun purchasing electric delivery trucks. Proponents say they make more sense in many ways than electric cars. That’s because delivery trucks generally drive short, defined routes each day, which are better suited to the limited range of battery power.
Moreover, electric vehicles can provide greater savings to companies than to consumers compared with diesel or gasoline models, not only in fuel costs but in maintenance.
“We’re a business here,” said Mike Payette, vice president of fleet services for Staples, a Framingham, Mass.-based office-supply company. “They have to justify themselves. They have to prove themselves and pull their own weight.”
Staples has ordered 41 trucks from Smith Electric Vehicles of Kansas City, Mo., and will start receiving them in January. There is “a real strong chance we’ll make a second order for 40,” Mr. Payette said.
The trucks, which have a top speed of about 50 mph and can carry 16,000 pounds, cost about $30,000 more than a diesel, but Staples expects to recover that expense in 3.3 years because of the savings inherent in the electric models, Mr. Payette said.
Staples said the annual maintenance cost of a diesel delivery truck is about $2,700 in most years, including oil, transmission fluid, filters and belts. For an electric truck—which has no transmission and needs no fluids, filters or belts—the cost is about $250. Read more